Published Tuesday, 14 August 2012
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Berkley Farr was working in the garden when he began to feel unwell but his symptoms were picked up by fast-thinking Ben McKee, who recognised the signs from a television campaign.
"I suddenly realised that I had dropped the snips a number of times and wondered why this was happening," Mr Farr explained.
"I felt my speech was slurred and luckily Ben noticed that there was something wrong and he asked me to put my arms out and do the usual tests for a stroke. He realised that he needed to phone the doctor."
Ben had seen the symptoms of a stroke on the Public Health Agency's FAST advert, which highlights the effects that the condition can have on the face, arms and speech.
He noticed Mr Berkley was dropping things and the pensioner said his mouth felt "tingly".
"I asked him to hold out his arms and Berkley was under the impression that he could hold his arms out but I could see that one arm was not straight
It was life and death. I wouldn’t be here if it was not for Ben and the action he took.
"While it was happening, it was a case of I've seen the advert on TV - F A S T - and ran through it. After Berkley had gone to the hospital I thought I hope he is OK, because it would be dreadful if anything had happened to him.
"Luckily we operated quite quickly and Berkley has made a fantastic recovery," added Mr McKee.
Strokes affect thousands of people every year Northern Ireland, where it is the leading cause of death and disability.
Around 1,300 people in the region die after suffering a stroke, but Mohammed Sartaz from the Public Health Agency said Mr Farr's experience was a positive one.
"It's proof of the success of this campaign, quick diagnosis and early treatment will save lives.
"It was really amazing how Ben got the message from that campaign and recognised the symptoms and immediately contacted 999 to get an ambulance for Berkley," he said.
Mr Farr was taken to the stroke unit at the Ulster Hospital, where steady progress was made in his recovery.
He is now able to walk and drive again, and is back helping out in the garden.